The School of Physics & Astronomy operates a roof-top observatory with several optical and radio telescopes.
We have an 11-inch Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, housed in a dedicated 3.5-metre diameter dome in the roof of the Physics building. This is a good quality, modern telescope providing excellent image quality over a wide field.
The scope is attached to a computerised Celestron CGX mount, which enables easy location of observational targets, and good tracking performance for long exposures.
The telescope is normally equipped with both an eyepiece and CCD camera, selectable with a flip mirror. This makes it relatively painless to switch between observing by eye and using the camera. Collecting photons with your own retina is special, but imaging is essential for faint objects and accurate measurements.
The sensitive, low-noise CCD detector has six megapixels, with a 'RGBG Bayer' matrix overlaid, which enables convenient 'one-shot' capture of colour images. Images are read-out to a computer located in the dome, where they may be examined and processed.
The primary purpose of the telescope is for use in undergraduate projects, conducted during the 3rd year of the Physics course. A variety of projects are offered, on topics such as measuring distances to star clusters, determining orbits of minor planets, and detecting transits of extrasolar planets.
Each of these projects aims to start with students obtaining raw data with the telescope, which they then process and analyse to reproduce key measurements. The project is assessed by a report describing the work carried out.
While priority is given to undergraduate project students, all members of the University's Physics Society (PhysSoc) are welcome to use the telescope, once they have received training. Introductory training sessions will be advertised periodically.
A Facebook group is used for coordinating observing sessions, announcements and general discussion. Trained users are encouraged to join this group.
Please note that only trained users may use the telescope.
Please contact either the PhysSoc astronomy secretary or the observatory director (Dr. Steven Bamford) with any queries.
Below are a selection of links to relevant documents and other resources that may help with your observations.
Useful tips and details about the telescope setup will be collected here.
The School has a dedicated solar telescope, housed in its own dome on the Physics building roof. It is a Lunt LS60T Hα model using a hydrogen alpha tuneable filter to pick out just that wavelength of light.
The solar telescope is primarily used for 3rd-year undergraduate projects. Projects include characterising the differential rotation of the Sun, and studying sunspot activity.
There is no general access at to the solar telescope at this time.
A short manual for the telescope.
The camera is currently a colour webcam with limited resolution of 640x480. A frame rate of 30FPS should be possible to the computer over the USB cable.
The School has two radio telescopes, located on the roof of the Physics building.
The radio telescopes are occasionally used for 3rd-year undergraduate projects.
There is no general access at to the radio telescopes at this time.
More to come...
More to come...